Note: This story is set about 100 years from present time.
“Curious. Interesting perhaps.”
Retvik sat up, then immediately fell back down, his body restrained by sharp, thorny bands across his arms and chest. Somevok was talking to him. The same somevok also had imprisoned the Retha.
“This has not happened in a while.”
Unable to sit upright, Retvik tried to look around, only to find something was keeping his head facing forward. There were strange, organic devices attached to each side of his skull, emitting even stranger sounds. None of this seemed even remotely familiar to Retvik. Last time he checked, he was sitting in a bar with his partner and his friends, enjoying a few alcoholic beverages. He’d only had one to drink though, when someone shouted for everyvok to rush outside.
“Hm. I am unsure whether a seventeenth attempt would be wise.”
“Are you talking to me?” Retvik snapped back into his current situation.
“It sounds like you are…” Retvik retorted. The voice seemed cold yet soothe at the same time. The voice of a mother who had just lost their child. “Why am I here?”
“You still remember.”
Retvik thought back. What happened when they all rushed outside? He struggled for a moment. It was hot. The sun was very bright. But wait, there was a second sun, wasn’t there? Only briefly. Then everything burned away…
“I am… dead?”
“You should not remember.”
Confusion gave way to panic. He wasn’t alone there. Everything burned, not just him! His partner, his friends, everything he knew! But wait, if he was dead, where in the name of the Retha was he? This did not look like that place Tenuk had brought them to all those years ago.
“Gath, Elksia, Kohgrah, Vel, Stevis, Teegear, they are all dead too, aren’t they?” A tear sneaked out from Retvik’s eye.
“In a way, yes. Not had such a long haul in many years.” The voice lingered for a moment. “Three new Veth in one go. Soon to be three.”
Retvik blinked. Three? He and Elksia were both Dessaron, he expected her to be here, but…”
Somewhere out of eyesight, something ruptured and burst free, perhaps in a different room. The voice moved away to see what was going on. “Ah, little Vel must be ready.”
Vel? Vel! “VEL!” Retvik found himself suddenly shouting. “Vel, are you okay? Are you there?”
The voice laughed. “Ah, you still have plenty of emotion in you, to go with your stubborn memories. Surely then you remember that every being that passes through here leaves without their previous life’s thoughts? Do you not remember your little friend?”
“Arkay…” Retvik sighed. “So you turned Vel into a monster just like him? And the same with Elksia, I assume. You are trying to do the same to me as well.”
“Indeed…” The voice softened greatly. “The Rivers of Cleansing and Rebirth must be protected from the Deitics who constantly threaten it. The Veth are beings designed to perfectly do this job. Your little friend now controls a good eon of territory and has killed, maimed or chased off over five thousand Deitic threats. Elksia and Vel will probably do as well. You on the other hand…”
“What about me?”
The voice audibly sighed. “For a Veth to perform their duty correctly, they must be free from their old, mortal life. Your refusal to give in is proving troublesome, and too many more goes through the Purifier of the Mind will leave you useless to me. We will just have to wait a little longer.”
The Retha panicked, his body twitching in an attempt to break free. “Wait, what?”
“I will see you again soon, in the blink of a cosmic eye, little one.”
The voice faded away, as did everything around him.
Dusk. The air was still burning. Ash followed the harsh, hot breeze. Scorched, battered buildings broke up the barren landscape and burning rubble littered the ground. Charred corpses lay in the ruins, their last actions forever etched into their broken bones.
Retvik screamed helplessly, the only being alive on a burning, dying planet.